Born: 02 July 1915 Waukesha, Wisconsin
Enlistment date: 1940
Deployments: Europe - Nov 1943
Units: 501st Parachute Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment 82nd Airborne Division.
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel.
Qualifications: Master Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Marksman with Rifle, Pistol, Carbine, Light Machine Gun, Browning Automatic Rifle, Grenade and Bayonet.
Decorations: Bronze Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War Medal, American Campaign Medal, EAME Theater Ribbon with 1 Bronze Arrowheads, WWII Victory Medal, Commendation Ribbon with Oak Leaf Cluster, French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.
Discharge Date: Retired 31 May 1968
Deceased: 21 September 2009
Other Information: Following the end of WWII, Gordon continued to serve his country in 325th AIR, 508thParachute Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Regiment, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Airborne Department, TIS and as Reserve Instructor to the 84th Airborne Division in Madison, Wisconsin.
Gordon earned his Purple Heart in Normandy when he parachuted near Sainte Mere Eglise and was shot and made unconscious by a German soldier. He awoke in hospital to find the same German soldier who shot him sitting at his bedside. His captor promptly brought out a bottle of red wine and a packet of cigarettes and offered them to him. Unfortunately for Gordon, the doctors would not allow him the cigarettes, but did allow him to have the wine. As it turned out, the German was in fact a Russian conscript forced into military service with the German Army and he returned to speak to Gordon and share a glass of wine while Gordon recovered from his wounds.
Following World War II where LTC Smith jumped into Normandy on D-Day, was wounded and captured as a POW, he remained on Active Duty for a career of some 30 years in the Army. He served the nation at war again in Korea with the 38th Inf Regt of the 2nd Infantry Division. He held command positions at the Airborne Department, Ft. Benning, GA. He served as XO and CO of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Ft. Bragg, NC. He was also XO and CO of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Ft. Campbell, KY. He was an advisor to the Venezuelan Parachute Battalion in Caracas, Venezuela and served tours of duty in Panama and the Caribbean Defense Command. His last assignment was Chief Instructor of the ROTC program at LSU.
Following his retirement from the US Army LTC Smith was active as a “Lobbyist” and as an Auditor for the Department of Health and Human Resources for the State of Louisiana. In his retirement years he enjoyed golfing, gardening, cooking and family travel. The cause of death was complications from hip surgery resulting from a fall, and Natural Causes, at the age of 94.
Gordon K Smith, LTC US Army (Ret)
LTC (R) Gordon K. Smith died on September 21, 2009 in San Antonio, Texas. He was born July 2, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Memorial services will be conducted on October 1, in San Antonio, TX.
His funeral service will be held Monday October 5, 2009 at Resthaven Gardens of Memory, 11817 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA. Full military honors will be rendered by soldiers of the 1st Bn of the 507th PIR of Ft. Benning, GA. Visitation will occur at 0100-H, Masonic Service at 0130-H and Funeral Service at 0200-H with full military honors. LTC Smith earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin and then entered the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1938 at Ft. Sheridan, Illinois. He joined the Paratroops in 1940 and was a Platoon Leader in the 501st Parachute Battalion. He made the combat jump into Normandy as a Major with the 507th PIR. He was wounded near Fresville, France and was captured by the Germans. He was a prisoner at Oflag 64 POW camp in Poland and later at Stalag 3 in Lukenwald, Germany.
He served the nation at war again in Korea with the 38th Infantry of the 2nd Infantry Division. He held command positions at the Airborne Department, Ft. Benning, GA. He served as XO and CO of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Ft. Bragg, NC. He was also XO and CO of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Ft. Campbell, KY. He was an advisor to the Venezuelan Parachute Battalion in Caracas, Venezuela and served tours of duty in Panama and the Caribbean Defense Command. His last assignment was Chief Instructor of the ROTC program at LSU.
He was awarded his Master Parachutist Badge in 1950. Among his many awards and decorations he received the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge with star (second award – two wars), French Legion d’honneur, and the French Croix de Guerre with Gold Star.